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Germany probes Facebook; British MPs slam Twitter, others over censorship

TOP NEWS

* Germany's antitrust watchdog, the Bundeskartellamt, is assessing a potential abuse of dominance by Facebook Inc. in the collection of third-party data from its users, according to an announcement. The German regulator believes that the social media company allows the use of the platform on the condition that it would be allowed to "limitlessly amass every kind of data" through third-party websites.

* Tech companies Twitter Inc., Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.'s Google Inc. were heavily criticized by members of the British Parliament for repeatedly failing to remove abusive, violent and extremist content on their platforms. "You are profiting — I'm afraid — from the fact that people are using your platforms to further the ills of society and you're allowing them to do it and doing very little, proactively to prevent them," Conservative MP and House of Commons home affairs committee member Tim Loughton told the representatives.

UK AND IRELAND

* Sky plc should seek a higher offer from 21st Century Fox Inc. following the latter's roughly $52.4 billion deal with Walt Disney Co., Reuters reports, citing Sky shareholder and hedge fund manager Crispin Odey. For Odey, Fox's £11.7 billion acquisition offer for the British company is an undervaluation now that Fox's 39% stake in Sky has become a part of the assets being sold to Disney.

* A+E Networks UK and TalkTalk Telecom Group PLC have extended their deal for the A+E Networks unit to continue the distribution of its channel brands to the British operator's pay TV platform. Subscribers of TalkTalk TV's Entertainment Boost will have access to various channels, such as History, Crime + Investigation, Lifetime and H2, according to the news release.

* Judge Emma Arbuthnot ruled against Uber Technologies Inc.'s appeal to exclude GMB Union and the London Taxi Drivers' Association in the car-hailing company's case against Transport for London's Uber ban in London, Bloomberg News reports. Arbuthnot ruled that the taxi driver unions can be involved in the case on a limited basis.

* Irish telecoms watchdog Commission for Communications Regulation has slapped a fine of €575,000 to CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd.'s Three Ireland for implementing changes to the contract without properly advising its customers, Dublin's The Independent reports. Part of the contract change includes an increase in the operator's services and changing its data allowances.

* Ofcom has announced that mobile subscribers are now able to switch telecoms providers by only sending a text message, under new rules the British regulator has imposed. The new ruling, which does away with the need for customers to speak with their current provider, will take effect in 18 months' time.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

* Amazon.com Inc. intends to open brick-and-mortar stores in Germany, Quartz reports, citing an interview of Ralf Kleber, head of Amazon Germany, with German newspaper Berliner Morgenpost. Asked about the retailer's strategy in the country, Kleber reportedly told the paper that "it's not a question of if, but when" Amazon would set up physical stores, but he did not disclose a launch date.

* The broadcasting council for Germany's Westdeutscher Rundfunk has approved the financial planning of the broadcaster until 2021. A deficit of €178 million is projected for the end of 2021.

* Regional Germany cable service company NetCologne will be transferring to digital TV reception by 2019, reports DWDL. The move follows media company Unitymedia, which abandoned analog this year.

FRANCE

* SFR Group SA's SFR Media has reorganized its press management, reports CB News. The former CEO of Infopro Digital SAS, Clément Delpirou, has been appointed CEO of SFR's press activities and as managing director and co-manager of Libération. The former CEO of L'Express, Guillaume Dubois, has been promoted to deputy CEO of SFR's press activities and chairman of Groupe L'Express. Altice NV owns SFR Group.

* France's national competition regulator has approved the acquisition of new independent channels within Canal Plus Group SA's pay TV offerings. This review of injunctions imposed in 2012 is expected to maintain a balanced contractual relationship between Canal Plus and independent channels.

NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG

* KPN NV has started upgrading its cable network in Rotterdam with new VDSL technologies such as pair bounding and bonded vectoring, TotaalTV reports. KPN reportedly decided to upgrade its current VDSL network rather than to replace it with a fiber network due to high costs of the latter.

* Flemish Minister of Media, Sven Gatz, announced that the DAB+ capacity in Flanders will be increased mid-2018, Mediamagazine reports. The announcement is part of Gatz' larger plan to transition to DAB+, which includes obligations for several national and regional radio stations to provide DAB+ broadcasting.

* Fiber optic network provider Jonaz will extend its activities to the Dutch cities of Hilversum, Lelystad, Veenendaal, Nijkerk, Gooise Meren and Almere, Telecompaper reports. Jonaz reportedly announced to the new start operations in 2018.

* The eight University Medical Centers in the Netherlands have awarded VodafoneZiggo a four-year contract for fixed and mobile telecom services, according to an announcement. The agreement includes public networks, mobile subscriptions, mobile data and associated services.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

* Facebook plans to open an office in Copenhagen in January 2018, reports MediaWatch. The new office will manage Facebook's growing advertising activities in Denmark. The office will also bolster Facebook's cooperation with media agencies in Denmark.

* Battery Ventures has invested 100 million Swedish kronor in Quinyx AB, a company that develops cloud-based work-task scheduling software, reports Digital Di. Quinyx posted an operating loss of 24 million kronor in 2016.

* Norwegian public broadcaster NRK is expected to lay off 50 personnel in a new cost-reduction round, writes e24.no. NRK's action is directly linked to a lower than solicited license fee increase.

* Egmont Publishing announced that it is preparing to launch a new e-sports magazine called Good Luck Garden Fun in Sweden on Dec. 28. Egmont is hoping to also launch the magazine in Britain, Norway and Poland at a later date.

* Inventure Oy will invest one-third of its new 1 billion Swedish kronor fund in Swedish early stage tech firms, reports Digital Di. Inventure focuses its investments in the Nordic and Baltic regions, with prime targets in cloud computing and proprietary tech companies.

SOUTHERN EUROPE

* Italy's Fastweb SpA is making Sky's streaming service Now TV available to all of its broadband customers who will subscribe to either of its Entertainment or Cinema, Series and Sports packages, Telecompaper reports.

* The budget commission of Italy's lower house approved the imposition of a 3% tax on firms buying "intangible digital products" such as ads and sponsored links on webpages, Reuters reports. The measure is part of the country's 2018 budget bill and bypasses EU plans to formulate regionwide rules on the matter.

* Fiber broadband joint venture Enel Open Fiber SPA has extended its coverage to 120,000 homes in the Italian city of Palermo, a few months since the deployment began, Telecompaper reports.

EASTERN EUROPE

* China's CEFC group and European financial group Penta Investments submitted a joint bid of about $2 billion to buy Central European Media Enterprises Ltd., Reuters reports, citing sources familiar with the details. While details are yet to be finalized, a third source said the companies were close to reaching an agreement.

* Liberty Global plc unit UPC Romania acquired cable operator Eniasan for about €3 million, Broadband TV News reports, citing ZF. Eniasan is based in Motru town and serves customers in Romania's Gorj and Mehedinti counties.

* VEON's Beeline is planning to triple its 2018 investments in developing fixed networks for business-to-business customers, Telecompaper reports, citing Comnews.ru.

* A regional court in the Czech city of Ceské Budejovice issued a preliminary injunction against Czech company Opton, Broadband TV News reports. National broadcaster TV Nova Group said Opton was illegally distributing Nova channels.

* The Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications of the Russian Federation said the government will allocate 520 billion Russian rubles for its Digital Economy program, Telecompaper reports, citing Cnews.ru. The program entails the rollout of mobile networks, remote electronic government services, electronic health services and other projects.

* Mick Fernhout is stepping in as managing director of strategy for Liberty Global's central Europe group following an organizational revamp, Broadband TV News reports. Fernhout has been with the cable giant since 2007.

FEATURED NEWS

Social media firms under pressure to curb fake news in the UK: Social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter are facing growing pressure in Britain to remove accounts spreading fake news and extremist or abusive content.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Economics of TV & Film: Films heading to home video faster in 2017: The 180 films Kagan tracked in 2017 were released on DVD/Blu-ray 98 days after their theatrical release, down from 114 days in 2016.

Anne Freier, Amanda Kelly, Koen Pijnappels and Gerard O'Dwyer contributed to this report. The Daily Dose has an editorial deadline of 7 a.m. London time. Some external links may require a subscription.